As FVPD turns page, new projects, highlights ahead

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Location and view of a Fox Valley Park District facility via the district’s new interactive map.

As the calendar turns, a new horizon looms. The Fox Valley Park District shares in the excitement that comes with a fresh outlook.

Here’s a sneak peek at a few of the many highlights coming to our communities in 2015:

Stuart Sports Complex: Similar to an athlete in training, the new expansion at Stuart underwent a year of conditioning and should be ready for play in 2015. The turf grass has established roots and taken hold, meaning Stuart will have up to 37 soccer fields and eight ball fields (all with lights). Prior to the expansion, Stuart hosted an average of 2,500 athletic contests per year, involving 75,000 participants and more than 100,000 spectators. It’s sure to be the epicenter of athletics moving forward.

Jericho Lake Park: A revitalization begins in spring that will bring a series of improvements to one of the district’s most popular parks that already features a disc golf course and quality fishing. When complete, Jericho will have two new shelter structures, a pair of boat launches (one ramp and one kayak launch), a nature-based playground and a trail connection linking Orchard Road to the east and Stuart Sports Complex to the west. A $400,000 state grant will help fund the project.

South River Street Park trailhead: Like to explore the regional trail system? This is a great starting point, located at the intersection of the Fox River and Virgil Gilman trails. From this central hub, trail users can travel north, south, east and west, with connecting trails making it possible to travel hundreds of miles while enjoying trail sanctity. Shorter, looped trips are available in every direction, too, and spending time at the park itself is a nice option as well. It includes a riverfront shelter, boat launch, ball field and fishing stations.

Urban reforestation: While the emerald ash borer invasion has devastated up to 20 percent of tree coverage in the Chicago area, it’s also created opportunities for new growth. The Park District’s arboriculture program is not only planning to replace the lost ash trees, but taking it one step further by diversifying with a range of species. New tree plantings are strategically planned at all parks, targeting picnic areas and dugouts, for example, where shade is most beneficial. One tree can remove up to 26 pounds of carbon a year – equivalent to 11,000 miles of car emissions – and trees play an integral role in virtually all of the Park District’s plans.

Prisco Fitness Center expansion: Funded in part by a $2 million grant from the state, construction begins this spring to triple the size of the fitness area at the Prisco Community Center, along with other improvements and upgrades. The added space will offer greater group and senior fitness facilities, renovated locker rooms, accessibility improvements and increased early childhood classroom areas for the Creative Play Preschool program – all of these high priorities according to recent surveys of residents.

Mid-American Canoe & Kayak Race: Set for June 7, 2015, the Mid-Am is expected to continue its fantastic growth. Discount boat rentals, complimentary shuttle service and two race length options have helped the event grow from 190 boats in 2008 to 507 in 2014. Many of those taking part were new paddlers (now experienced paddlers) who discovered the excitement of paddling the beautiful Fox River. And now they’re spreading the word and introducing family and friends to this annual, historic event that began in 1962. The current is kicking!

Interactive parks map: Hot off the server, you can check it out at It’s a Google Maps based, comprehensive listing of 164 parks – and you can search for them based on specific amenities.

Cheers to 2015 – here’s hoping it’s your best year yet.

Jeff Long ( is the public relations manager for the Fox Valley Park District.